A few hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama met in New York, the two sides signed final agreements for the purchase of two of the most advanced American helicopters in a deal worth about $3 billion.
Ministry of Defence spokesperson Sitanshu Kar announced on his official Twitter handle: “Contract for purchase of 15 Chinook and 22 Apache helicopters signed.” Just an hour after the official announcement, Mr. Modi and Mr. Obama met in New York with a warm hug.
According to officials, the deal value is worth about $3 billion (Rs 19,800 crore) and would be completed in four years. The agreements were signed in the headquarters of the Ministry of Defence in South Block.
For the Chinook helicopters, the agreement was signed between representatives of MoD and Boeing. For Apache, there were two separate contracts —one between MoD and Boeing representatives and the other between the governments to cover parts of the deal under the Foreign Military Sales programme.
Like the agreement signing on Monday, the deal itself was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security just moments before Mr. Modi left on his visit of Ireland and the U.S. last Tuesday. The deal had been on the backburner for the past five years.
The contracts mark yet another significant step in rapidly expanding military ties between the two sides that would be discomforting to China, while drawing the contours of a broader coalition emerging in the region. Unlike the previous UPA government, which was reluctant to be seen to be doing U.S. bidding in the region, the Modi government has been receptive to U.S. deals and joint exercises. In a first, the latest Malabar exercise between the U.S. and India has been expanded to include Japan.